2020-2021 AGM Newsletter

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April 20, 2020

This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, UTFA’s annual general meeting (AGM) will be held on Zoom on April 27th. 

What follows is UTFA’s AGM Newsletter. It features the reports of our hardworking officers and committee chairs, along with several other items. Please feel free to email us at faculty@utfa.org with any comments or questions. Scroll down to read the full report or use the table of contents below to access a particular report or section.

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Table of Contents


Agenda
2020 AGM minutes (link to PDF)

Officer Reports:

Committee Chair Reports:

Promotion Workshop for the Teaching Stream
Tenure Stream Workshop

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Report of the President

Introduction

I have been honoured to lead UTFA in my first year as your President.

UTFA’s purpose is to inform, advocate for, support, and advance the collective interests of the faculty and academic librarians of the University of Toronto. We are independent and democratically accountable. UTFA is a strong voice on campus, to government, and in the public sphere on matters that impact both our members and the quality of post-secondary education.

We are a very large and active faculty association. UTFA represents more than four thousand members, comprising more than 3200 working faculty, about 175 working librarians, and about 700 retirees. Many of our members are new to U of T: almost 900 were hired in the last three years!

A Year of Unprecedented Challenges

This past year has been extraordinarily challenging for all of us, if not in equal measure.

Thirteen months ago, on short notice and within the context of widely varying home and professional responsibilities, UTFA members navigated an abrupt shift to emergency remote work. With limited supports, faculty and librarians across the three campuses worked day and night to familiarize themselves with new online platforms and teaching methods; develop and implement alternative forms of instructional materials, pedagogies, and student evaluations; and respond with empathy and flexibility to students’ diverse and significant needs while striving to maintain academic integrity and rigour. Many UTFA members did so while also fulfilling sudden and intense child care, eldercare, and other family and community-based commitments.

Since then, UTFA members’ ongoing and extraordinary efforts to meet their professional obligations in the face of unprecedented challenges have carried a heavy price. In the past year, members’ calls and inquiries to UTFA for advice and support increased significantly in both number and scope. Our members expressed concerns related to health and safety; excessive workloads and burnout/mental health crises; the need for more teaching assistants and technical and other supports to meet students’ needs; growing social and workplace inequities; the ongoing erosion of collegial governance at the University; and their general uncertainty in navigating the challenges of a global pandemic.

What follows outlines some of the vital work UTFA has been doing during this extraordinary time. While we had hoped that the pandemic would be waning by now, at the time of writing COVID-19 infection rates are surging in the context of a third wave. We do not yet know what the summer and fall have in store for us. In the meanwhile, UTFA’s work on your behalf continues.

Health and Safety

At the time of writing, Ontario’s health care system is under catastrophic pressure as the third COVID-19 wave continues to surge.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, UTFA has advocated that the University of Toronto senior Administration adhere to the following key principles when establishing University policy related to COVID-19:

  1. The precautionary principle The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) requires that employers take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers’ health and safety.
  2. Respect for science Policies should be based on evidence and knowledge related to COVID-19 as expressed by our members and the prevailing provincial and national scientific bodies on which they serve, such as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and ought to be revised and updated as the science evolves.
  3. Best practices in health and safety In keeping with the University’s own Health and Safety Policy, the Administration should go beyond minimum legal requirements “by adopting the best practices available to protect the University community.”
  4. Consultation and cooperation The Administration should consult with members of the University community to ensure that the requirements of OHSA are fully implemented and integrated into all University work activities. This too is required by the University’s own Health and Safety Policy.

U of T’s push for extensive in-person teaching Last spring, the U of T Administration announced major plans for in-person teaching in Fall 2020. This consequential decision defied the recommendations of leading public health science experts being voiced by our members at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health (DLSPH). The experts called on governments and institutions to follow the precautionary principle to guide their COVID-19 policies. In its push for extensive in-person teaching, U of T was an outlier among Ontario universities.

Our limited health and safety framework UTFA and the Administration discuss health and safety issues at our Central Health and Safety Committee (CHSC). Created in early 2020, the CHSC came out of UTFA’s settlement of a group grievance over asbestos in the Medical Sciences Building. The current members of the CHSC are myself, Adria Giacca, Jun Nogami, and James Scott. Paul Bozek and Jeffrey Siegel are Special Advisors to the CHSC and Samantha Olexson provides our staff support.

The CHSC does not fall within OHSA’s legislative framework, which provides legally defined rights and obligations for a Joint Health and Safety Committee. It has been the Administration’s position that those rights and obligations under OHSA would only apply to a certified labour union—which UTFA is not. Instead, in partial reply to a series of UTFA’s requests, the Administration has stated, “we are providing this information in the interests of our collegial relationship and our mutual interest in promoting a reasonable and safe return to work, although we do not think these requests fall within the parameters of information that the University is obligated to provide to the Association.”

While the Administration noted that the CHSC can “request to obtain” information, this is not the same as the right to “obtain information” guaranteed to Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSCs) under OHSA. The limitations of our current CHSC framework are significant because they grant no enforceable rights related to access to information such as incident reports and disclosure including testing data. UTFA has found itself requesting key documents numerous times without success.

To align UTFA’s representation rights with other representative bodies on campus, UTFA has requested that the CHSC be recognized by the Administration as a Committee that fulfills OHSA’s legislative requirements and has the powers of a Joint Health and Safety Committee. To date, this issue remains outstanding.

UTFA’s collaboration on key issues with public health experts UTFA’s health and safety advocacy has benefited greatly from close collaboration with our expert members at the U of T Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Their generous contribution has provided expertise to help inform UTFA’s discussions with the Administration. Despite the challenges with the current CHSC framework, UTFA has done concerted in-depth advocacy on each of the following issues that either pre-dated or emerged during the pandemic:

  • In-person teaching and work While we recognize that many UTFA members prefer in-person teaching and work, it is still too early for faculty and librarians to make an informed decision about whether they can safely return to campus. Evidence indicates that indoor spaces with poor ventilation elevate the risk of transmitting COVID-19. As described above, we also advocate that the Administration apply the precautionary principle and implement policies that meet standards set by leading scientific bodies.  
  • Mask policy Since last summer, UTFA has been raising concerns with the Administration regarding the polyester masks that it provided to the University community, and the general insufficiency of its mask policy. UTFA has succeeded in advocating for some changes to the mask policy but we remain concerned that the U of T website still has an FAQ for 2020–2021 advising, “You may also wear a balaclava, bandana, scarf, cloth or other similar item that covers the nose, mouth and chin without gapping.” Key features of the U of T’s mask policy are based on outdated science.
  • Ventilation UTFA has serious concerns that the Administration has not listened to the prevailing scientific evidence regarding the airborne transmission of COVID-19. Recently, ASHRAE, a leading scientific body, stated that “Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is significant and should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.

We have made repeated requests for documentation related to the testing of U of T’s ventilation systems and other matters over an extended period of time.

In response, the Administration provided a small amount of information about air filters. Eight months later, and despite repeated requests, UTFA still has not received documentation demonstrating that campus building mechanical ventilation systems meet or exceed ASHRAE standards.

  • Legionella UTFA has raised concerns that Legionella bacteria may have grown in stagnant water systems of campus buildings that have been underoccupied during the pandemic. Everyone is at risk of potential illness if exposed to Legionella, but the risks are higher for people with underlying health conditions.

After many months of sustained advocacy, our concerns were confirmed when UTFA received reports that several campus buildings have positive Legionella tests. UTFA continues to raise questions about the University’s water maintenance program and has asked that the Administration provide transparent communication on their testing.

  • Asbestos When UTFA and the Administration settled the group grievance on asbestos in the Medical Sciences Building, a few key issues were left to the newly established CHSC to try to resolve. Discussions are ongoing. If the issues remain unresolved, they will be referred to Arbitrator William Kaplan for mediation and possibly arbitration.

The limitations of the CHSC framework make it challenging for UTFA to receive all the information we need to support our members in a timely manner. The Administration’s response has not been substantially consultative and has not always reflected current evidence, emergent scientific consensus, or established best practices.

Alternative avenues for advocacy UTFA has also taken other measures to support our health and safety advocacy. UTFA proceeded with filing an Association grievance on COVID-19-related health and safety issues in order to receive additional information that the Administration was unwilling to provide through the CHSC framework.

The grievance concerns the Administration’s responses to COVID-19, including its initial Fall 2020 re-opening plan, its failure to test building ventilation systems, its inadequate mask policy, and its opaque procedures in the event of a suspected case of COVID-19 on campus. The grievance was not settled internally and has now been referred to a litigation/mediation/arbitration process.

We have also tabled bargaining proposals that support addressing concrete process and health and safety policy concerns.

In the past year UTFA has further strengthened its relationships with other employee groups on campus and helped to create a strong campus coalition. For years, UTFA, staff unions, and student associations met to discuss common concerns. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our coalition partners have been exchanging information that the Administration has shared inconsistently with the parties and collaborating on issues of mutual concern. Last fall, the campus coalition joined us in our call for the U of T Administration to revise its re-opening plans that included significant amounts of in-person teaching.

UTFA co-hosted a well-attended town hall entitled “Not Safe Enough: Listening to Science on the Re-opening of U of T,” featuring a panel of leading U of T epidemiologists and experts in health, safety, and public health equity. We also launched a joint petition that garnered over 6,780 signatures in only a few weeks.

As a result of these collaborative initiatives, the senior Administration revised its plans, to allow some UTFA members to re-visit their “choice” on course delivery and move a significant number of courses to remote learning that had initially been scheduled for dual delivery.

Looking ahead to Fall 2021 Recently, the U of T Administration sent a communication regarding in-person work for Fall 2021. Once again, it set out a unilateral decision that does not align with expert scientific advice or respect the impact such a decision will have on faculty and librarian workloads related to changing modes of course delivery. One of the most consistent messages UTFA hears from the membership is the desire to return to in-person work—but only when it is safe to do so.

The science that ought to inform our decisions UTFA and our campus coalition will continue to urge the Administration to practice the precautionary principle, listen to the prevailing scientific bodies, and revise and update U of T health and safety policies in keeping with new knowledge and best practices.

We urge the U of T Administration to update University policies to reflect the following:

  • science now confirms that COVID-19 can spread person-to-person from both droplet and airborne transmission;
  • people who are asymptomatic or presymptomatic, or who have only mild symptoms that they may not identify as COVID-19, can transmit the virus;
  • physical distancing and physical barriers in indoor settings are not enough to protect people against airborne transmission;
  • the risk of airborne transmission is further heightened when individuals are breathing heavily due to exercise, or speaking frequently during classroom activities, meetings, and social encounters; and
  • people who have underlying health conditions are also at higher risk.

As we enter the pandemic’s third wave in Ontario, UTFA will continue to advocate for informed, meaningful, and collegial discussions with the U of T senior Administration, in a true partnership, following the guidance of public health science faculty experts. We advocate for shared and responsive decision-making that ensures a safe and healthy environment for our members and the broader U of T community.

Workload

For at least fifteen years, UTFA has been seeking to address our members’ significant workload concerns. It is abundantly clear, including from survey data collected by the Administration itself, that U of T faculty and librarians were carrying workloads that were very heavy, inequitable, and often unreasonable—even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Changes in our work since the onset of the pandemic have amplified pre-existing workload challenges and inequities for our members.

To their great credit, faculty and librarians have been undertaking extraordinary efforts to support student learning and the broader educational mission of the University over the past academic year. However, this effort has come at a significant cost.

Hearing from UTFA members Over the past thirteen months, UTFA launched three large-scale membership surveys, a series of focus groups, and nearly two dozen constituency-based bargaining meetings to learn more about our members’ experiences and priorities, with a focus on workload. We also received separate correspondence from more than 200 individual members seeking advice and support (or relaying their concerns) in relation to workload.

Increasing workload demands related to teaching Since the start of the pandemic, our members have been letting us know that their workloads have become heavier than ever. In many departments and units, faculty members have been required to deliver courses through time-consuming online/temporary remote modes of course delivery without any reassessments or reductions in the teaching components of their normal workloads.

Shifting to remote modes of teaching and instruction without meaningful pedagogical, technological, and other supports significantly increased our members’ workloads. So, too, did the Administration’s imposition of hybrid teaching models (to which our members strongly objected). Teaching via hybrid/dual modes of course delivery necessitated complex and time-consuming pedagogical redesigns of courses. Teaching online in itself imposes a much-heavier-than-normal workload, given the increased time faculty spend on: answering students’ emails; making required syllabus changes; technological issues; redesigning assignments; exams for students located internationally in different time zones; and academic integrity concerns.

Supporting students UTFA members have also been effectively required to attend to a wider range of student needs during the pandemic—including formal and informal accommodation requests—that were ordinarily addressed through other means when in-person student services were available. In particular, many female and racialized members report experiencing disproportionately heightened student expectations, as well as associated increases in workload.

Academic integrity and academic freedom Many UTFA members have raised concerns about workload and academic integrity. Where it is impossible for members to teach their courses to a reasonable standard of pedagogical integrity using particular course delivery models, the requirement to do so infringes on their academic freedom.

Home life demands All of these additional workload demands are occurring while many members are facing significantly increased time pressures related to child care, eldercare, and other family and community-based responsibilities. It has been heartbreaking to hear about the devastating impacts that overwork is having on our members’ mental and physical health.

Disproportional impact Increased teaching workloads have been and continue to be shouldered disproportionately by Teaching Stream faculty and members holding precarious Contractually Limited Term Appointment (CLTA) and part-time appointments.

UTFA’s Advocacy

In late July 2020, UTFA engaged in a public awareness campaign raising our members’ concerns related to health and safety and workload. The campaign was successful in that the U of T Administration appeared to modify its position on requiring hybrid/dual-delivery modes of course delivery. While this was a welcome acknowledgement of UTFA’s concerns, it unfortunately did not go far enough. The decision to plan for in-person and dual-delivery courses, and then to transition those courses to online/temporary remote instruction on short notice and in the middle of the Fall term, further exacerbated the excessive workload demands on UTFA members.

 UTFA has repeatedly raised pressing and profound concerns about the Administration’s plans for teaching and course delivery in the context of COVID-19. In the spring of 2020, UTFA initially attempted to negotiate a Letter of Understanding on Working Conditions. The Administration rejected UTFA’s proposal and instead indicated it wished to deal with workload issues UTFA maintains are systemic on a case-by-case basis.

UTFA has filed an Association grievance on COVID-19 and Workload, which has been referred to the Grievance Review Panel. Given the urgency of these issues, the parties are also working to schedule a mediation to see if a settlement can be reached.

While individual members have the right to file workload complaints or grievances regarding their workload concerns, many UTFA members have reported their reluctance to raise such issues within their department or formalize a workload complaint via UTFA. Our members know that their colleagues who are Deans, Chairs, and Associate Chairs are struggling with heavy workloads themselves. Many of our members are not persuaded that their units would have the recourse to address their workload issues even if they were to get raised. Sadly, many of our members also worry that speaking up about excessive workloads may impact their standing within their departments. This is especially the case for UTFA’s most precarious CLTA and part-time members.

With the Fall 2021 term rapidly approaching, UTFA’s Salary, Benefits, Pensions, and Workload negotiating team has also raised workload-related issues, including the need for course reductions and enhanced Teaching Assistant support, at the bargaining table.

Securing Progress Through the Ranks (PTR)

Each year over the course of several decades, U of T faculty and librarians received Progress Through the Ranks (PTR) salary increases on or around July 1 in recognition of our accomplishments in the previous academic year. This past year, the U of T Administration decided to break with the usual past practice.

PTR at U of T is wholly merit based and represents the only source of promotional increases or career progress available to UTFA members. Such increases are distinct from across-the-board (ATB) salary increases, which the Ontario government has capped at 1% through Bill 124. PTR increases—which constitute increases of significantly more than 1% for most members—are excluded from that cap and are a high priority for UTFA.

Even though UTFA members were working harder than ever amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and the University’s finances were more than sound, the U of T Administration chose to withhold our 2019–2020 PTR for many months. The Administration’s leadership took the hardline position that UTFA must negotiate the payment of PTR anew in every round of bargaining, including for work our members had already completed and annual activity reports they had already submitted and had evaluated.

Faculty and librarians at nearly every other university in Ontario automatically receive annual pre-negotiated PTR increases that recognize their contributions but not at the University of Toronto. UTFA members (with the exception of UTFA members at St. Michael’s College) are among a tiny number of faculty and librarians who cannot rely on receiving annual PTR increases.

As part of our effort to ensure all our members received the PTR they earned for 2019–20, we took the Administration to arbitration to challenge their position on the unpaid PTR increases. Unfortunately, Arbitrator Kaplan ruled in the Administration’s favour.

As we reported last January, at the heart of Mr. Kaplan’s finding was the distinction between a certified union’s collective agreement and an association’s memorandum of agreement. The Ontario Labour Relations Act (OLRA) contains a “statutory freeze” that carries the terms and conditions covered by the collective agreement beyond the expiry date, such as during normal periods of collective bargaining. The July 1, 2020 PTR payments were made at St. Michael’s College because a refusal to make these payments would violate the statutory freeze provision. UTFA, in contrast, is not covered by the OLRA and therefore lacks the protection of a statutory freeze.

Following overwhelming member support for UTFA’s email and petition campaign, the Administration finally agreed to issue our members’ 2019–2020 PTR increases.

To be clear, however, whether and when PTR is paid for the current academic year, 2020–2021, and for future years remains unresolved and is subject to bargaining with the senior Administration.

Additional details of this achievement are outlined in the report from the Vice-President, Salary, Benefits, Pension, and Workload, below.

In closing

UTFA has engaged in extensive communication with our members—both active and retired—this year. We are pleased to report that much of this communication has gone both ways, through member surveys, focus groups, petitions, committee and other small group meetings, and most recently in a round of visits to UTFA constituencies. UTFA Vice-President, Salary, Benefits, Pensions, and Workload, Jun Nogami and I met with approximately two dozen constituencies to provide updates on bargaining, and the members who attended the sessions generously shared their concerns. We have engaged with our retired members through the important work of UTFA’s Retired Members Committee. We value each of the personal accounts you have shared with us, whether they touch on issues in your department or are related to your personal circumstances. Your participations helps us strengthen our advocacy on your behalf in bargaining and in other forums.

Both the pandemic itself and subsequent decisions made by our senior Administration have had significant impacts on the lives and working conditions of all UTFA members, although the burdens are being disproportionately shouldered by members who teach the most (Teaching Stream faculty), those with caregiving responsibilities (often women), other equity-seeking groups (including Black, Indigenous, and racialized members), and precariously employed academics (part-time and CLTA members). Many of these disproportionately affected groups intersect.

The pandemic has illustrated the need to renew and strengthen UTFA’s capacity to address issues of central importance to our members, including workload and health and safety. We need to assess how we might build a better framework for real collegial governance that supports faculty, librarians, and retirees within the U of T community as well as in the broader university sector.

UTFA shares with Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) deep concern around the future of public funding for universities. Government funding of post-secondary education has been on the decline for many years, creating a precarious situation for many universities. The impact of Laurentian University’s financial and governance crisis is not localized to Sudbury and northern Ontario. There are widespread direct and indirect impacts that are affecting all of us in the sector. UTFA will continue to work with the campus coalition and with other faculty associations through the OCUFA and CAUT on sector-wide issues.

UTFA is formally represented at OCUFA and CAUT as well as other organizations, such as College and University Retiree Associations of Canada (CURAC) and the Association of Retirement Organizations in Higher Education (AROHE). It is with pride that I announce recent recognition of two UTFA members by such organizations. The CAUT Academic Librarians’ and Archivists’ Distinguished Service Award for 2020-2021 is being presented to Harriet Sonne de Torrens, and Kent Weaver was recently honoured with a CURAC/ARUCC Tribute Award. Congratulations to Harriet and Kent!

I am very proud of the work that UTFA has undertaken this year. Let’s build on our efforts together. I look forward to continuing the conversation.

Thanks

I want to thank the members of UTFA’s Executive, Council, and Committees, who participate with resolve and energy in the work of the Association. In particular, I must acknowledge Vice-President, Salary, Benefits, Pensions, and Workload, Jun Nogami for his outstanding contributions to UTFA. He has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to our members in this first year of his vice-presidency.

I also want to thank UTFA’s dedicated office staff who carry out the day-to-day tasks required to ensure UTFA meets the needs of its members: Chris Penn, Marta Horban, Rucsandra Schmelzer, Darren Puscas, Jay Thiessen, and Rose D’souza. Many thanks to UTFA’s insightful legal team: Helen Nowak, Reni Chang, Heather Diggle, Samantha Olexson, and Crystal Doyle. I am grateful also for the leadership that Kathy Johnson has provided since joining UTFA as Executive Director last July. I greatly appreciate the resilience and skill with which UTFA’s staff have navigated the transition to work from home.

Finally, I offer my thanks to you, our members, for your ongoing support for the work of UTFA during these difficult times. Our members are our strength.

Terezia Zorić
UTFA President

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Report of the Vice-President, Salary, Benefits, Pensions and Workload

My work this year as UTFA’s Vice-President, Salary, Benefits, Pensions and Workload (SBPW) has quite naturally focused on bargaining, as our last Memorandum of Settlement, a two-year agreement, expired on June 30, 2020.

The impacts of the pandemic and Bill 124 (which sets a 1% limit on salary and benefits increases for workers in the broader public sector) have significantly shaped our discussions to date.

UTFA’s bargaining team submitted a full suite of proposals to our senior Administration counterparts in May 2020 that were based on a series of member surveys we conducted and other feedback we received early in the pandemic.

UTFA members identified the following primary bargaining priorities:

  • Fair compensation, including the payment of PTR;
  • Fair and equitable workloads;
  • Mental health benefits improvements;
  • Streamlined accommodation procedures;
  • Health and safety protections; and
  • Protecting retirees’ access to the benefits plan available to active members.

The University’s senior Administration forecasted substantial revenue losses early in the pandemic due to their prediction of sharp declines in enrolments in the fall. In actuality, U of T’s enrolment increased by 8 per cent, as UTFA reported on February 11, 2021. While it is true that U of T has experienced some budgetary impacts due to COVID-19, particularly in the area of ancillary services, the University also has a significant carry-forward of hundreds of millions of dollars. We know that senior Administrators at U of T can readily afford to provide UTFA members—and indeed all University employees—with fair compensation and benefits.

The negotiation process has been slow. We are disappointed that the Administration has not been forthcoming in scheduling sufficient time for meaningful bilateral (face-to-face) negotiations. Despite UTFA’s repeated offers to meet more frequently, for full days, on evenings, and during weekends if necessary, to resolve negotiations in reasonable time, over the past year our counterparts on the Administration side of the table have only been prepared to meet with us for 6 to 8 hours a month—sometimes less.

We continue to advocate for policy changes in many areas that address our members’ top priorities (see above). To date, the Administration has not been prepared to respond to UTFA in a timely manner with written proposals or enforceable commitments to resolve our disputes.

At the same time, over the past year our bargaining team was forced to engage in a lengthy and expensive legal challenge to oppose the Administration’s ongoing refusal to pay PTR from the 2019–2020 academic year. That refusal was a stark departure from decades of past practice.

Following an expensive and time-consuming legal challenge that failed to resolve the issue, UTFA launched a petition asking our members to demonstrate their support (see the President’s report, above). Our members responded swiftly and decisively in support of UTFA’s position on PTR as per the terms set out in the petition, and shortly thereafter the Administration finally agreed to do the right thing.

The success of the PTR campaign demonstrates that a powerful resource for UTFA in bargaining with the Administration is a highly engaged membership that understands and actively supports our bargaining positions.

In keeping with this principle, UTFA’s chief negotiators set up a series of constituency-based membership bargaining update meetings. These have continued into April of this year. President Terezia Zorić and I have found these meetings to be very rewarding as we hear directly from UTFA members about their concerns and about their experiences under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is clear is that while the impact of the pandemic has increased workloads for the overwhelming majority of our members, this impact has not been evenly distributed. Faculty in the Teaching Stream, as well as those who have family caregiving responsibilities (such as young children at home or dependent loved ones) have been disproportionately affected. Moreover, UTFA members facing significant workload pressures have been provided with widely varying and inconsistent resources across units.

Overall, the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated pre-existing inequities at U of T in the same way it has done in the broader communities to which we belong.

The following outlines some of the other priority areas of UTFA’s work in SBPW bargaining.

Joint Benefits Committee
The Joint Benefits Committee monitors the usage of benefits and addresses any concerns brought forward either by UTFA, on behalf of our members, or by the Administration. UTFA’s benefits package, provided by Green Shield Canada, is on an Administration Services Only (ASO) basis. This means that the Administration sets the premium levels so as to recover the cost of providing benefits to all of our members and pays a percentage overhead to Green Shield Canada. The Administration sets new premium levels once a year.

Green Shield Canada provides UTFA with quarterly data, which we use to inform our bargaining goals in this area.

Last year’s benefits data shows that our members, as a whole, were unable to use the full scope of their benefits during the pandemic since public health protocols limited access to many services, such as dental procedures or massage therapy. It is our position that reduced usage should be reflected in reduced health care premiums for the coming year.

Tri-Campus Working Group
UTFA and the Administration have committed to setting up a working group that will examine inequities that exist across units and the three campuses and recommend remedies.

Policies for Librarians Negotiations
Negotiations to modernize the Policies for Librarians are ongoing. The negotiation process has drawn out over three years. While UTFA has prevailed on some issues, we are now shifting to a formal mediation process to resolve outstanding issues.

For more details, see below the report of the Chief Negotiator for Policies for Librarians. Congratulations to the team for the agreements negotiated to date.

St. Michael’s Bargaining
I congratulate the St. Michael’s bargaining team for a successful round of bargaining, which took eight months to negotiate. For more details, see below the report of the St. Michael’s College Bargaining Unit.

Thanks
I would like to end by thanking UTFA staff, especially lawyers Samantha Olexson and Reni Chang, for their support in bargaining; our Executive Director Kathy Johnson for her advice and wisdom; and Emma Phillips at Goldblatt Partners for her hard work.

Thanks also to the dedicated members of the bargaining team: Roy Gillis, Mary Alice Guttman, Marcin Peski, David Roberts, and Harriet Sonne de Torrens.

Most of all, I would like to thank UTFA President Terezia Zorić for all that I have learned from her this year, and for her willingness to co-lead negotiations in addition to all the many other good things that she does in her role.

Jun Nogami
Vice-President, Salary, Benefits, Pensions, and Workload

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University Pension Plan (UPP) Report

As UTFA’s representative on the new University Pension Plan (UPP) Employee Sponsor Committee (ESC), I have benefited from the discussion and advice of the UTFA Pension Committee, which I chair. The members of this Committee are Louis Florence, Mary Alice Guttman, Lisa Kramer, Brian McDonagh, Jun Nogami, Marcin Peski, Harriet Sonne de Torrens, Maureen Stapleton, and Terezia Zorić.

The UTFA Pension Committee has offered feedback on various UPP documents such as the Participation and Transfer Agreements, and the Affiliate Employer Agreements. Over the past year, we have enjoyed three presentations related to Responsible Investing (RI). Murray Gold, counsel to the ESC, presented on the legal framework of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing. Paul Downes visited the Committee in March to speak on the importance of divestment from fossil fuels. In a recent meeting, Lisa Kramer presented a summary of the main features of the New York City Comptroller’s Boardroom Accountability Project, and a discussion of approaches to RI followed. The Committee will soon take up for discussion UPP trustee appointment protocols, communication procedures for the Joint Sponsors, and the principles upon which new plan entrants are approved.

The UPP will launch officially on July 1, 2021. The ESC has met numerous times over the past fifteen months, dealing with an array of issues involving the five plans that currently form the UPP (three at Guelph and one each at Queen’s and U of T). The goal has been a smooth transition to the start date. Since the last AGM report, Trent University has been admitted to the UPP and will join as of January 1, 2022.

The ESC has urged the Chair and the CEO of the UPP Board of Trustees (BoT) to solicit member feedback on the principles of investing, and we are pleased to see that they will hold a virtual town hall, for all members of the U of T pension plan, on May 12. Members will receive a letter from the BoT, announcing that meeting.

Please see the link here for an informative Q & A on the activities of the UPP boards and committees. The main headings in the Q & A are: History, Central Documents, Governance, and Timelines; The Main Functions of the Joint Sponsors and the Board of Trustees; and The Statement of Investing Policies and Procedures (SIPP); ESG; IPCC.

See also the links to the following Appendices:

Appendix A: UPP Timeline: 2017 - 2021
Appendix B: Graphic on the UPP Governance Structure; names of board members
Appendix C: Graphic from the Board of Trustees on planned member consultations

I would like to thank the UTFA Pension Committee and the UTFA staff, especially Crystal Doyle and Chris Penn, for supporting our work this year.

Cynthia Messenger
Chair, UTFA Pension Committee
UTFA Representative, UPP Employee Sponsor Committee

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Report of the St. Michael’s College Bargaining Unit

On February 17, 2021, we reached a tentative three-year agreement (July 1, 2020—June 30, 2020) that we have ratified.

Despite the stresses of the pandemic and the pressures of Bill 124 (as mentioned above), the experience was constructive and collegial.

Our bargaining team negotiated improvements related to three priority areas:

  • Across-the-Board salary increases (ATB)
  • Benefits
  • Teaching Stream

Our ongoing bargaining position on ATB has been to follow the lead of UTFA’s SBPW bargaining team, which means we typically defer our position for salary increases until UTFA has tabled its position. We also apply this tactic to PTR pool amounts and break points. Our bargaining team and the Administration agreed to maintain this approach for the recent round of negotiations.

In addition, our Administration agreed that, in any year when the U of T Administration has not reached a settlement with UTFA, the St. Michael’s College bargaining unit will receive a provisional PTR increment on July 1 (the typical date that PTR is issued), using the last available numbers. This provisional increment would be adjusted to reflect the agreement between the U of T Administration and UTFA, after settlement is reached.

On benefits, the St. Michael’s bargaining team made a significant gain. Effective July 2021, our members will move into a new plan (Green Shield Plan), mirroring the benefits plan that all other UTFA members receive. Currently, the St. Michael’s plan is part of the broad suite of benefits available for employees who are covered by the United Steel Workers’ plan at the St. George campus.

On improvements for the Teaching Stream, the St. Michael’s bargaining team achieved its goal of integrating the Teaching Stream into our collective agreement, on which it embarked in the last round—unglamourous, but a real milestone.

Aside from these achievements, we also sought improvements on research leave and study days for librarians. We have also gained welcome clarification around the leadership of the Kelly Library.

We were not successful in making any changes to the prevailing merit process, not even a temporary moratorium related to the pressures from the pandemic.

We have started planning for upcoming work by establishing three working groups: on the future options for the St. Mike’s pension plan; on gender salary equity; and on evaluating teaching effectiveness (following on from the Ryerson arbitration). Not only will these working groups support our members' identified priorities, but we also encourage new members to join these working groups and support UTFA’s broader goals.

I would like to thank the bargaining team: Silvia Vong (Kelly Library), Michael Attridge (Theology), Harriet Sonne de Torrens (UTFA Executive Committee), and myself, supported by Reni Chang (UTFA lawyer). We have benefitted throughout from the support of OCUFA and CAUT and, as always, the warm solidarity of UTFA members.

Michael O’Connor
Chief Negotiator and Chair, St. Michael’s College Bargaining Unit

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Report of the Vice-President, Grievances

Advice and Grievance Statistics for July 1, 2020 to April 14, 2021

Individual inquiries
Number of Inquiries: 331 (July 2020 to April 14, 2021)
Active files: 227

At the beginning of the pandemic, member concerns were centred in four main areas: 1) health and safety; 2) the shift to online teaching and corresponding excessive workloads; 3) job security (primarily from our part-time and Contractually Limited Term Appointment colleagues, but also some inquiries from members who were pre-tenure, pre-continuing status, or pre-permanent status); and 4) COVID-19-related accommodations, such as child care, eldercare, and personal health. We also received a large number of inquiries related to laboratory closures, tenure/continuing status reviews, requests for delays to academic reviews, and disrupted research leaves.

Impact of COVID-19 on our members
When I began my term as Vice-President, Grievances last July, most of the concerns we received from our members centered on the Administration’s proposed re-opening plans for the fall. Specifically, faculty and librarians expressed the following key concerns with the proposed plan:

  • The failure to reflect public health recommendations (many of which came from our faculty members who worked at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health);
  • The imposition of a “hybrid” teaching model across many academic units;
  • The requirement that online teaching should include synchronous and asynchronous options; and
  • The excessive workload from the requirement to prepare for both in-person and online teaching.

As mentioned in UTFA President Terezia Zorić’s report, our members were especially concerned that the proposed plan did not reflect public health recommendations given the uncertainty about pandemic-related health and safety issues. UTFA members who had health conditions or child care or eldercare responsibilities expressed deep reservations about the Administration’s plans to require in-person teaching when experts predicted higher health risks because of an anticipated second COVID-19 wave. Also as mentioned in the President’s report, a record number of our members came to us with workload complaints. Others flagged significant equity concerns around the Administration’s plans.

Association Grievances
There are currently 9 active Association Grievances being pursued by UTFA:

  • COVID-19 and Workload
  • COVID-19 and Health and Safety
  • Salary Discrimination
  • Pay Equity for Faculty
  • Pay Equity for Librarians
  • Divisional Guidelines for the Assessment of Teaching Effectiveness
  • Student Course Evaluations/Student Evaluations of Teaching (SCEs/SETs)
  • Faculty of Law IHRP Hiring Controversy

Advice and Grievance Portfolio: Scope and Resources
As has been reported in previous AGM Newsletters, the Special Joint Advisory Committee (SJAC) process expanded the scope of policy negotiation areas available for UTFA to pursue. This in turn expanded UTFA’s responsibilities in relation to its membership and increased the demands that are now being placed on UTFA’s resources.

Accordingly, this year UTFA has been assessing its resources in relation to the advice and representation it provides to members. Our aim is to continue to provide exceptional service to our members in a cost-effective manner. 

New Part-Time Policy
As was reported in the 2020 AGM Newsletter, UTFA concluded the multi-year negotiation of a new part-time policy in May 2020.  This year, we have been focused on the policy’s implementation, including assisting long-serving part-time faculty members transition into the new Continuing Appointment category. 

UTFA is watching the rollout of this policy closely. We encourage part-time members to contact us with their questions or concerns by sending an email to advice@utfa.org.

Thanks
I want to thank Executive Director Kathy Johnson, and General Counsel, Helen Nowak, for their leadership in overseeing the structural changes made to the grievance handling process at UTFA. For their unyielding support and unflagging energy, a huge thank you goes to our outstanding legal team: Helen Nowak, Reni Chang, Heather Diggle, and Samantha Olexson. I would also like to thank our legal assistant, Crystal Doyle, who has been of great support to the team. The grievance portfolio has borne the challenges of COVID-19 as much as any of us; they have responded to our members professionally and collegially.

I would also like to thank my experienced colleagues on the Executive Committee and the Grievance Committee for their contributions to the work of UTFA.

Finally, I would like to extend my deep appreciation for the guidance of Terezia Zorić. Terezia has shown remarkable knowledge and expertise in grievance handling and has been an unwavering source of information since the beginning of my term as Vice-President, Grievances. 

Brian McDonagh
Vice-President, Grievances

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Report of the Vice-President, University and External Affairs

UTFA Undergraduate and Graduate Student Awards
The most rewarding and immediately impactful part of my responsibilities as Vice-President, University and External Affairs has been organizing, awarding, and presenting the UTFA undergraduate and graduate student awards. The members of the University and External Affairs Committee are thrilled to support these exceptional scholars and look forward to meeting them during the Annual General Meeting.

UTFA Committee and Constituency Involvement
As Vice-President, University and External Affairs, I am involved in many external UTFA committees, internal committees, and working groups. I have also been an active and contributing member of the UTFA-Administration Joint Committee. In addition, I was attentive to the concerns and questions raised by my constituents at OISE and helped to organize the recent member consultation and bargaining update at OISE.

Representation of UTFA at the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Association and the Canadian Association of University Teachers

I serve as UTFA’s representative to the boards of both OCUFA and CAUT and work to facilitate the exchange of information with these provincial and federal organizations. This role helps UTFA facilitate our broader effort to support sector-wide issues in post-secondary education.

Recently, central in this commitment has been our collective opposition to the unfolding governance and financial crisis at Laurentian University. To date, we are witnessing the troubling unilateral decision by Laurentian’s Administration to file for creditor protection, a legal proceeding that has only been applied for private sector matters. Despite widescale appeals to the Ontario government from several faculty associations and across the post-secondary sector, we were disappointed to find that the 2021 budget did not offer financial support for Laurentian.

As Canada’s only university with a tricultural mandate, Laurentian offers an outstanding higher education and research experience in English and French, with a comprehensive approach to Indigenous education. UTFA and Canada’s post-secondary sector all recognize the importance of maintaining Laurentian’s unique programs and cultural and community involvement and are opposed to court involvement or further governmental regulation of internal university governance practices.

Laurentian’s crisis is the consequence of years of underfunding of post-secondary education. Both provincial and federal governments have failed Laurentian University.

UTFA continues to support work to raise awareness on behalf of Laurentian’s faculty association and the greater Sudbury community. I hope I can count on your support for this important initiative.

J. Roy Gillis
Vice-President, University and External Affairs

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Report of the Treasurer

It has been an eventful year. During my first ten months as your Treasurer, I worked with UTFA’s signing officers and staff to successfully address the operational challenges of COVID-19. We are focused on ensuring UTFA’s ongoing financial health and stability. Both are important because they provide a strong foundation for the ongoing support our members need and deserve. 

We reviewed all financial procedures and have strengthened our cost control process. Changes were made to reduce external costs while also allowing UTFA to provide comparable or better service to our members. The COVID-19–driven pivot to online work prompted us to explore alternatives, leading to the implementation of electronic funds transfer and other initiatives, which reduced operating costs and increased efficiency.

UTFA’s financial health also benefitted from gains in our investment fund as markets recovered from their early COVID-19–driven setback and achieved new highs. The market value of the fund has increased 10% since our June 30 fiscal year end, and is up 21% since the COVID-19 financial lows of March 2020. The investment fund includes a $1.5 million contingency reserve that cannot be accessed without the approval of the Executive Committee and Council. The fund is invested conservatively, with 40% of assets in high quality equities and 60% in defensive fixed income securities, in compliance with the UTFA Investment Policy.

None of UTFA’s operational gains could have been achieved without the hard work and dedication of our office staff. I would like to acknowledge strong contributions by Executive Director Kathy Johnson, Business Officer Marta Horban, and Bookkeeper Rucsandra Schmelzer. Thanks also to our President, Terezia Zorić, for her strong support.

The Association’s audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2020 can be found here. These statements were presented at the 2020 AGM held October 29, 2020. We wish to thank Donna Mehta, CPA, of Mehta Professional Corporation for her advice and the timely completion of this year’s audit. Audited financial statements for the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2021 will be posted in early fall. 

Maureen Stapleton, CFA
Treasurer

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Report of the Chair of the Appointments Committee

As described in earlier sections on grievances and COVID-19 related issues, UTFA is currently addressing the heightened concerns that our members have on Student Course Evaluations/Student Evaluations of Teaching (SCEs/SETs). The Appointments Committee continues to review and advocate in relation to issues arising from SCEs/SETs. Our discussions with senior Administration have largely focused on the limitations of the current system of online evaluations—including systemic bias—and on the appropriate use of SCEs/SETs to inform reflection on and improvement of a faculty member’s teaching.

UTFA has filed an Association grievance on SCEs/SETs, and the Appointments Committee is supporting this grievance process.

The Appointments Committee notes that Ryerson University must abide by a binding arbitration award that directs Ryerson’s Administration to report the results of SETs as distributions without the calculation of averages. UTFA plans to further strengthen our work on SCEs/SETs by gathering information about similar best practices in place at other Ontario universities.

The Committee also considered the procedures for promotion to Full Professor in the Teaching and Tenure Streams. Our members have reported that they lack clarity in this area, with variation among divisions and departments. In addition, the relevant policy for the Teaching Stream is new, and UTFA members have limited experience of its procedures and outcomes.

The Appointments Committee also discussed the factors that encourage application for promotion, for individual faculty members and for the University. These factors include prestige in the profession, the presence of role models (such as women at the rank of Full Professor), and improved opportunities to take on significant administrative service. The committee also noted that the current policy on promotions states the expectation that most continuing faculty members will secure promotion over the course of their careers. Through UTFA, we intend to develop an escalated communications plan to advise our members on policies, guidelines, and practices in this area.

I am grateful to UTFA President Terezia Zorić and Chris Penn (UTFA staff) for their support and assistance.

Stephen Rupp
Chair, Appointments Committee

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Report of the Chair of the Equity Committee

The Equity Committee sought to identify ways we could reduce long-standing systemic inequities that the pandemic exacerbated.

As chair, I organized a webinar titled “The Stakes of ‘Diversity’ in Higher Education Today” with Professor Matthew Shenoda, Associate Provost for Social Equity & Inclusion and Professor of Literary Arts and Studies at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

Held on November 5, 2020, the event drew roughly 140 UTFA members. The webinar was an integral step in UTFA’s efforts to foster deep and meaningful dialogue to combat embedded formations of anti-Black and other forms of racism—historical and structural—that negatively impact academic life on our campus.

Professor Shenoda offered strategies to advance a more just and equitable university community through his critique of the traditional manner in which equity, diversity, and inclusion have been rhetorically advanced by university administrators. He offered a three-pronged method to think through these weighted terms, how centralizing academic, intellectual, and curricular engagement can transform spaces and policies as they relate to today’s most pressing issues of anti-Blackness and race on campus. 

Renewed by this webinar, the Equity Committee met later in the fall to map our long-term objectives as well as the need to consider immediate goals following the racial reckoning facing university campuses after the murder of George Floyd as well as incidents of anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, and racism in general that have occurred in Toronto and Canada.

We held vigorous discussions on how U of T’s senior Administration can improve efforts to combat racism and implement equitable policies. We also discussed the Administration’s insufficient response to anti-Blackness, which consisted mostly of sensitivity training for white faculty.

The Equity Committee sought a tangible and impactful strategy. Through UTFA, we intend to lobby the Administration to implement cluster hires of Black and Indigenous faculty—with the understanding that new faculty will require structures for support, retention, and building research capacity. We invited Professor Michael Freitte (University of Windsor) to the Equity Committee’s second meeting (held in March 2021). He shared his experience of negotiating and navigating cluster hires to help us understand how this initiative could successfully be implemented at U of T.

The Equity Committee will plan additional events as part of our ongoing equity agenda. We also plan to update UTFA’s website to reflect our renewed commitments, particularly in describing forms of inequity, such as resisting white supremacy and anti-Blackness.

We passed the following motion after discussing the law school hiring controversy:

UTFA’s Equity Committee strongly encourages UTFA Council to urge the U of T Administration to resolve the Law School Hiring Controversy Association Grievance. This resolution must be consistent with the MoA’s core principles of academic freedom, collegial governance, non-discrimination, freedom from external interference, and due process.

Recently, UTFA President Terezia Zorić reported on the status of UTFA’s ongoing advocacy in relation to pay equity, employment equity, and salary discrimination, relating that while UTFA has made advances, there is still much work to be done. President Zorić recommended that, following the disclosure of equity data from the Administration, the Equity Committee strike a subcommittee to review the data to support ongoing Association grievance work. The Committee will take on this important work in the coming months.

I also serve on OCUFA’s Status of Women and Equity Committee, where I keep abreast of emerging equity developments and policies at Ontario’s post-secondary institutions.

Kass Banning
Chair, Equity Committee

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Report of the Chair of the Librarians Committee

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the majority of the University librarians across our three campuses have been working from home, meeting and teaching online. We have had an active year and our workload has increased substantially. During this period, the Librarians Committee met virtually several times: May 6, June 17, July 15, September 4, and November 26 in 2020 and on January 11, 2021. We have also organized constituency meetings for librarians, held in March and April 2021, that were widely attended.

Michelle Spence joined UTFA Council to temporarily replace Vicki Skelton, who is currently on a research leave and who is one of the three librarian representatives for Council Constituency 801.

During the past year, we have addressed concerns raised by librarian members regarding the extended acting position of the Academic Administrator at Gerstein and the Engineering and Computer Science Library as well as the striking of a single search committee for two different positions in the central system.

Despite experiencing challenges created by the pandemic, we are grateful to members of UTFA’s Executive Committee and Council for their continued support for the ongoing negotiations to modernize the 40-year-old Policies for Librarians.

Harriet Sonne de Torrens
Chair, Librarians Committee

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Report on Negotiations for the Policies for Librarians

UTFA and the Administration continue to negotiate regularly at the table to modernize the Policies for Librarians. We are pleased to have reached three agreements at this table since June 2020:  

These agreements were made possible due to the hard work of both sides.    

On February 9, 2021 our negotiation team and the Librarians Committee engaged librarians in consultations to discuss their priorities and questions, as well as provide an update on the current Policies for Librarians negotiations. 

January marks our third year in negotiations; thus, UTFA and the U of T Administration have agreed to pivot into mediation. Arbitrator Brian Etherington has agreed to serve as mediator. We look forward to his involvement so that UTFA and the Administration can settle the remaining issues in dispute and strengthen policies for librarians that reflect our current needs.  

I am grateful to Ken MacDonald, Dan D’Agostino, Whitney Kemble, and Harriet Sonne de Torrens for their significant contributions as the UTFA negotiation team members at this table.  Additionally, Emma Phillips, Counsel and Partner at Goldblatt Partners, has provided essential support, as have the UTFA staff, Executive Committee, and Council.  

Kathleen Scheaffer
Chief Negotiator

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Report of the Chair of the Membership Committee

Over the last year, the Membership Committee had to find ways to connect meaningfully with UTFA members other than face-to-face contact. The Committee is responsible for promoting members’ engagement with, and participation in, UTFA. The informed engagement of faculty and librarians has been integral to UTFA’s success in our negotiations with U of T Administration.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Membership Committee has sought new ways to engage with our members. One initiative involved showing Committee members how to organize and engage virtually through the CAUT Online Organizing School. In a joint effort involving leadership by UTFA President Terezia Zorić and Executive Director Kathy Johnson, the Membership Committee also organized a well-received virtual orientation for new members on UTFA Council.

CAUT Online Organizing School—Engaging & Mobilizing
Since public health protocols restricted in-person activity on campus, faculty associations across the country have had to think about new strategies for communicating and engaging with members. CAUT delivered an engaging workshop that provided education and guidance to faculty associations on how to build the political power necessary to defend publicly funded post-secondary education; protect members’ health and safety, jobs, and professional rights; and demand a fair negotiation process with university administrations. Committee members who participated in the training appreciated learning new organizing skills. We intend to extend an invitation to participate in a customized version of the workshop to the whole Membership Committee and UTFA Council in the next academic year.

New UTFA Council Member Orientation

Over the past year, the Membership Committee developed a 90-minute orientation workshop for new members of UTFA Council. We created the workshop to address several objectives, including:

  • To ensure that each new Council member was appropriately greeted into the Council structure and oriented to how Council is situated within the broader context of UTFA’s Constitution and Bylaws ;
  • To discuss the roles and responsibilities of our membership, UTFA Standing Committee members, Council representatives, and the Executive Committee; and
  • To ensure that new members had an opportunity to have a dialogue with the facilitators (Terezia Zorić and Keith Adamson) to be able to successfully take on their new roles at UTFA.

The workshops were well attended, and it was noted that considerably more new members had been recruited onto Council this year than in previous years. We are excited to continue to work with Council to ensure a vibrant and engaged membership.

As Chair, I want to thank the members of the Committee for their support and contributions to our collective reflections and work this year.

Keith Adamson
Chair, Membership Committee

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Report of the Chair of the Retired Members Committee

The Retired Members Committee represents approximately 700 retired faculty and librarians at the University of Toronto. All newly retired faculty and librarians are automatically members of UTFA when they retire and initially pay no dues.

The Retired Members Committee met, virtually, three times in the fall term. We also hosted our 3rd Annual Retiree Reception: Welcome to New Members virtually. Although we all missed the opportunity to socialize in person, retirees who attended said they felt it was a successful and safe alternative option for meeting, given the public health restrictions in place during the pandemic. Our speaker, Gary Kawaguchi, spoke on a topic of great importance to retirees, “Benefits Literacy including Health Benefits.” Overall, Gary confirmed the importance of health benefits for retirees and the positive aspects of our University of Toronto health benefits plan.

During the Committee meetings, we enjoyed lively and discerning discussions focusing on:

  • Trends in public sector benefits in Ontario;
  • Developing stronger links with the University’s Senior College and Senior College Centre;
  • Academic freedom challenges on campus;
  • Protecting and valuing our health benefits plan, especially in light of the challenges COVID-19 has created for retirees; and
  • Engaging with UTFA’s retiree community. 

The Committee nominated Kent Weaver for the CURAC/ARUCC Tribute Award of College and University Retiree Associations of Canada /Associations de retraités des universités et collèges du Canada. The nomination was successful and the award was presented at the CURAC 2021 Virtual Assembly on April 15. Congratulations, Kent!

As the Chair of the Retired Members Committee, I serve on UTFA’s Executive Committee and on the Board of Management of the University’s Senior College Centre. I also communicate with UTFA’s Retired Members Constituency by sending out a fall and spring email with an update on events and academic and health news. 

Many thanks to the members of the committee: Ed Barbeau, Elinor Fillion, Helen Grad, Lino Grima, Mary Alice Guttman, Brenda Mallouk, Suzanne Meyers Sawa, Angela Miles, Kent Weaver, Jun Nogami and Terezia Zorić.

In memoriam: The Retired Members Committee has learned since the 2020 Annual General Meeting of the death of the following UTFA retirees: F. Michael Barrett, Eleazar Birnbaum, Rashmikant C. Desai, Alice Eriks-Brophy, Michael Joy, Kenneth A. Lantz, Bangalore Ramaswami, and Ezra Schabas.

Geraldine (Jody) Macdonald 
Chair, Retired Members Committee

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Report of the Chair of the Teaching Stream Committee

Many of the challenges that faculty in the Teaching Stream have been experiencing are described in detail above. The stream has been greatly impacted by the pivot to online teaching and by recent proposed requirements for synchronous and asynchronous learning. These pandemic-related challenges have exacerbated prior problems related to uneven and inequitable working conditions within the Teaching Stream. In particular, the lack of meaningful minimum protections against overwork and inconsistency across the University with regard to teaching assignments have produced severely inequitable teaching loads. Many Teaching Stream faculty are currently being tasked with onerous—if not exploitative—workloads and talk of burn-out is commonplace in the stream.

The Teaching Stream Committee has had wide-ranging discussions this past year on many aspects of work within the stream.

In particular, the Committee worked to plot trajectories for advocacy in the following areas:

  • Mental Health: Mental health is a framing issue for UTFA during bargaining, in terms of benefits as well as considerations of mental health as it relates to workload and the additional pressures brought on by the pandemic.
  • Support for Pedagogical and Discipline-based Scholarship and Creative Professional Activities: There are many significant impediments within policies and practices at the University that curtail the ability of Teaching Stream faculty to pursue research, scholarship, and creative professional activities, even though these are key vehicles for demonstrating educational leadership, achievement, and ongoing pedagogical/professional development for promotion. The Committee plans to release a report on this issue soon and will be organizing advocacy plans to work toward improved supports for scholarly activities in the Teaching Stream.
  • Equity: There are ongoing concerns about equity within the Teaching Stream and in the University’s broader academic landscape. Equity issues feature in the ongoing negotiations and discussions with senior Administration about workload, including work on salary inequities.

It has been a pleasure to serve as Chair of the Teaching Stream Committee for the last two years and I wish the next Chair and Committee all the best in addressing these and other important issues with regard to the working conditions of faculty in the Teaching Stream.

David J. Roberts
Chair, Teaching Stream Committee

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Promotion Workshop for the Teaching Stream

Wednesday, May 5, 2021
3:00pm to 5:00pm
By Zoom video conference (details to come) 

This workshop assists Teaching Stream members in preparing for the interim review and the review for promotion to Associate Professor, Teaching Stream. It is designed to demystify review procedures.

This workshop is open to all Teaching Stream members of the Association and includes the following:

  • useful tips from teaching dossier experts
  • an overview of all relevant university review procedures
  • a forum to share and exchange strategies towards compiling a successful file

Speaker: David Roberts, Chair, UTFA Teaching Stream Committee

Megan Burnett, Associate Director of CTSI Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation (CTSI), and Helen Nowak, UTFA General Counsel, will be there to help answer questions.

To attend, RSVP here (link to form from 'RSVP here') with your name, department/faculty, and which review you are preparing for. Once registered, you will receive the link to attend the event in the days ahead. 

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Tenure Stream Workshop

Tuesday, May 11, 2021 
1:00pm to 3:00pm
By Zoom video conference (details to come) 

UTFA presents a workshop on the interim review and the tenure review. This workshop is open to all members of the Association and includes the following:

  • an overview of all relevant university review procedures
  • useful tips on compiling a successful dossier

Speaker: Emma Phillips from Goldblatt Partners

Stephen Rupp, Chair, UTFA Appointments Committee, and Helen Nowak, UTFA General Counsel, will be there to help answer questions.

To attend, RSVP here (link to form from 'RSVP here') with your name, department/faculty, and which review you are preparing for. Once registered, you will receive the link to attend the event in the days ahead.